Statement of the pre-selection jury
In the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, symbolism is embodied in the architecture without unnecessary rhetoric. The restrained exterior of the building respects the history of the site in the heart of the wartime Warsaw ghetto, providing a reverential frame for the exhibition on the history of the Polish Jews, still under construction. The building is paired with the adjacent Monument of the Ghetto Heroes, proving that architecture is capable of empathy.
The free-form main hall is a contrast to the restrained exterior, symbolically leading the visitor towards the future. The free geometry of the main hall was inspired by the Hebrew expression “yum suf”, which refers to the gorge of the Red Sea during Exodus. The organic formal language of the load-bearing walls of the main hall was an extreme challenge for both design and construction, successfully tackled without compromise. The outcome, combining the best international expertise in steel and concrete construction, also brings together the traditions of prefabrication and handicrafts. The stone in the polished concrete surfaces of the interior is local limestone sand, which tones the atmosphere of the single-material cavernous interior from concrete grey into warm light.
Based on a winning entry in the international architectural competition in 2005, the Museum of the History of Polish Jews continues the series of buildings designed by Finns outside Finland, and manages to update the tradition in an impressive way. The building is a Song of Songs of Finnish excellence, carried out as a result of international cooperation. The high standards and the extensive scope of the project have required exceptional management skills and an uncompromising respect for the original vision. The outcome conveys a universal experience, regardless of ethnicity or creed.
MEMBERS OF THE TEAM
The competition period
Head designer Rainer Mahlamäki and Ilmari Lahdelma
Other team: Miguel Silva, Jukka Savolainen, Risto Wikberg, Jenni Hölttä, Hanna Suomi, Jesperi Vara, Riitta Id, Petri Saarelainen, Katri Rönkä
The implementation period in Finland
Head designer Rainer Mahlamäki
Project architect Riitta Id (–11/2007)
Project architect Maritta Kukkonen (12/2007–)
Other team: Jukka Savolainen, Miguel Silva, Markus Wikar, Mirja Sillanpää, Eva Haggrén, Juhana Marttinen, Taina Silmujärvi, Risto Wikberg, Katri Rönkä, Leila Hyttinen, Maria Jokela, Tarja Suvisto, Marjo Korolainen
The implementation period in Poland / Kurylowicz & Associates
Stefan Kurylowicz (–2011), Ewa Kurylowicz (2011–), project architect Pawel Grdozicki (–08/09), project architect Marcin Ferenc (07/09–), Tomasz Kopec, Michal Gratkowski